Daily news roundups

Reaction to Nogueira deal, 3-man midfield, Pfeffer & Ribeiro impressing, much more.

Photo: Courtesy of Sochaux

Philadelphia Union

The whirlwind of offseason midfield signings came to a close on Thursday with announcements from the Union and Sochaux that French midfielder Vincent Nogueira had signed a deal to join the club.

Nogueira will remain in France for Sochaux’s game against Nantes on Saturday so that he can say farewell to the fans before joining the Union in Florida for the preseason.

According to MLS Transfers, a “very reliable source” says the Union played hardball to lower Sochax’s asking price for Nogueira from $2 million to $200,000. The report also says, “The Union will owe Sochaux an extra $150k if they get relegated from Ligue 1 at the end of May 2014 AND will have the first rights back to Nogueira if they get promoted to Ligue 1 and the player wants to go back to France.”

Reports on the Nogueira signing from PSP, Philly.comDelco Times, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, The Soccer Desk, MLSsoccer.com, Goal.com, SBI, The AP.

How does John Hackworth see the Union’s new midfield being deployed? The Union coach explained, “We’re looking at it as a three-man midfield. Maidana was playing as a No. 10 in Argentina, but he can also play as a left winger. [Edu] and Nogueira are both traditional No. 8s – box-to-box guys. Nogueira is very much a possession-oriented guy who does a tremendous amount of work. And then you’ve got Brian Carroll, who in theory should be doing the work behind those guys, holding down the fort and providing the service into those two.”

Cristian Maidana will arrive in Philly today.

In a review of recent player moves involving US internationals at Goal.com, Ives Galarcep says of Maurice Edu joining the Union, “You can make the argument that he might have been better off grabbing one of the other European options he had, such as taking loan moves to Spain or France, but if Kyle Beckerman is his top competition for a World Cup place, what better place to measure yourself against Beckerman than in the league he plays in?”

There has been some speculation out there among fans about whether Edu could be named captain. Edu says, “Brian Carroll is the captain and one of the most professional guys I know. He’s a well-respected guy, a great leader and works his socks off every game. It would be nice if I started next to him in the midfield and the two of us can help dictate play a little bit.”

Conor Casey says, “I feel great,” and that he is eager to reach the postseason. “This is a new start and we’re excited to be back. The work starts now. The guys here are working very hard and the club made a number of changes. I’m personally excited. I want to be in the postseason. It’s a long season and we start working on it now.”

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George reports that Pedro Ribeiro has “exceeded expectations” so far in training. De George reports, “Hackworth and company…envision him as a central attacker, tucked behind the strikers and able to facilitate the attack in a way none of the Union’s midfielders could last season.”

While much has been made of Ribeiro’s size — 6-4, 208-pounds — Hackworth says he wants more than that. “You have to have that (physical) component, but it’s also a fine line because me personally, I want guys who can play. So I don’t just want the big guys that are the ball-winners. I need the guys who are ball-winners and can roll a ball into a very tight window. And that’s what we’re asking of those guys.”

Ribeiro has those ball skills. “I’ve always tried to have the ball in my feet since I was 2, 3 years old,” the native of Belo Horizonte says. “When I was at home, my mom would go crazy because I would break stuff inside the house. I was just literally kicking the ball around all day, and that’s something that helps. A lot of Brazilian kids do that; we live with the ball in our feet.”

De George also reports that Zach Pfeffer has “been one of the more impressive performers of the first week of Union camp at YSC Sports.”

Pfeffer, who recently returned from a year-long stint with Hoffenheim youth academy, says, “The expectation is that I’m coming in and showing them everything I’ve learned, and hopefully that’s going to translate to minutes on the field.”

Zac MacMath says that he was surprised when the Union selected Andre Blake in the SuperDraft but that the competition between the two will be a good thing. “I think I was a little bit surprised, and obviously I understand why they picked him,” MacMath told the Inquirer. “He is a very good goalkeeper with a lot of potential and someone who is going to push me, and that is the whole point of drafting him…Any time there is competition it pushes people to be better, and obviously I want to go out and have the best year I can have and kind of prove to myself I am the goalkeeper I think I am.”

Blake says of MacMath, “He’s been great to me. We continue to push each other, and hopefully we both get better.”

Brendan Burke tells Philly Soccer News about his decision to leave the Union, “It was a hard decision to make. My relationship with John (Hackworth) and the staff could not be better.” The report says, “Burke is speaking to several clubs and universities in the Boston area, and hopes to have a new position nailed down soon.”

Amobi Okugo is hosting Media FC’s FIFA14 tournament on Saturday at 2 pm. You can sign up here for only $5 but you should act fast because the field is open to only 16 participants.

In ex-Union players news, Kai Herdling has signed a two-year contract extension with Hoffenheim.

Freddy Adu is in England training with Championship side Blackpool. The Daily Mail reports, “It is understood that the 24-year-old attacking midfielder is a friend of Blackpool’s caretaker boss Barry Ferguson, and there is little chance of him actually playing for the Championship club even if they could secure a work permit.”

MLSsoccer.com says there has been “mild interest from top-flight teams” in Adu from teams in Turkey.

Local

The Harrisburg City Islanders released their 2014 schedule on Thursday and will start the season on the road on April 5 against the Wilmington Hammerheads before their home opener on April 19 against the Dayton Dutch Lions. The schedule includes two interleague friendlies, away to Montreal Impact on June 20 and at home against the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 6. They host new USL PRO side LA Galaxy II on July 30. They finish the season on Sept. 6 against Charlotte. Click here for a PDF of the schedule.

MLS

Player transactions:

FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo says he expects more US internationals to soon return to MLS. “The message from MLS has been loud and clear: They want to have everybody back into the United States prior to the World Cup, so I know that more players are coming.”

Despite what has so far been a quiet offseason in terms of acquisitions, Montreal Impact sporting director Nick De Santis believes the team can still augment its roster before the start of the season. “I’m confident we can get to a certain point with one or two players.” Gone from Montreal’s roster are Alessandro Nesta, Davy Arnaud, Andrea Pisanu and Daniele Paponi.

San Jose, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, have unveiled their new logo and first and second kits. The new ‘Earth”-less logo is certainly an improvement over the previous one, even if it isn’t particularly exciting. Can’t say I’m a fan of the first kit, although the all-red second kit’s connection to San Jose’s NASL days is nice. Message to Earthquakes president David Kaval: the NASL was not, contrary to what he may say, “a time when American soccer was really in its earliest era.” Not even close.

Former Union goalkeeper Brad Knighton is competing for the starting job at his new club New England.

ProSoccerTalk has a Q&A with Orlando’s newly appointed vice president of soccer operations, Paul McDonough.

Former New York Red Bull and MLS smack talker Juninho has retired from the game.

Lebron James, rumored to be a part of David Beckham’s Miami MLS franchise investment group, says, “I think it could be great (soccer in Miami). We’ll see what happens. I think Miami is a great place for soccer. There’s so many great athletes that come from South Florida, Florida in general, and you know, the lower coast. Hopefully we can make it really good.”

Raul to the Cosmos?

US

The USWNT hosts Canada tonight in a friendly at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas (9 pm: Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes, Fox Soccer 2Go). SBI and Fox Soccer have previews.

ESPNW looks at the relationship between USWNT teammates and sisters Kristie and Samantha Mewis.

On Saturday, the USMNT concludes its January Camp with a friendly at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., against South Korea (5 pm: ESPN2, UniMás, Watch ESPN). US Soccer will be providing streaming Live Match Access coverage of the USMNT on the homepage of the federation website today and Saturday. Coverage will include Jurgen Klinsmann’s pregame press conference, “mixed zone footage and interviews,” and footage from training.

US Soccer announced on Thursday that the game had sold out. Look for our preview later today.

Soccer America says the USMNT “has been working on a few nuances” in preparation for Saturday’s game.

At the LA Times, Kevin Baxter writes that Landon Donovan appears to be a lock for the US World Cup team but wonders what his role will be.

Donovan says, “The goal is to make the team. I’m not in a place in my life now where I need to have this crazy burning desire to start and score and do everything. I want the team to do well, and I want the team to succeed and I want to be a part of it, of course. We all have ego, we all get enjoyment out of doing those things. But I want to help this team do well, and I want to help U.S. soccer make another big step.”

At ESPN, Roger Bennett has a very good read on why US players aren’t taken seriously in Europe.

Clint Dempsey has been named to the 2014 class of the Southern Conference Hall of Fame. Dempsey played at Furman for three seasons before turning pro.

On US Soccer and minivans. It’s deeper than you might think.

Elsewhere

Check out the latest Footy on the Telly listings for the week’s upcoming live games on TV, online, and on satellite radio.

It’s transfer deadline day in Europe. The Guardian can help you keep up to date.

The Press Association reports, “Racing Santander’s Copa del Rey match with Real Sociedad was suspended on Thursday evening after the home players refused to play, having not been paid for several months.

The AP reports, “World football’s governing body has given Qatar two weeks to explain how welfare and living conditions for workers building 2022 World Cup projects are improving.” Or else what?

30 Comments

  1. Dammit John Hackworth, Dammit.

    • I should qualify this, I did not want a 3 man midfield with Carroll starting over Casey/Mac/Le Toux. I guess it was too much to ask the guy to bench all 3 of his pets.

      • I’m still of the opinion that Carroll is on the trade block, to be honest. I don’t have any proof, of course. But if he is, it’s in Hackworth’s interest to sound like he wants to keep Carroll and knows exactly how he’ll fit in.
        .
        Besides, we all know there’s a league rule that the Union can’t use the same player as captain two years in a row…

      • From what he said, I think he’s basically considering starting Maidana either at CAM and having an Edu-Nogueira double pivot, or moving Maidana left and having Nogueira and Edu play slightly ahead of Carroll (it’s a popular formation in the lower leagues of England).

        I also suspect that at the moment, since Carroll is the captain, he doesn’t want to say anything that implies Carroll wouldn’t start. It could easily come across as disrespectful to a player who has worn the shirt well over the past few years and played hard every time out, and damage locker room chemistry.

        I say we at least wait at least until preseason before we draw hard and fast conclusions on what the lineup is going to look like.

    • What’s surprising about his comments? Hackworth has always wanted a 3-man midfield. Le Toux and Maidana as wingers would complement Casey or McInerney IMO. It also provides a lot of flexibility in our substitutions, as we could go more offensive (bring off Carrol, put in Pfeffer/Ribiero) or defensive (pull off a winger and put in a wide midfielder).
      .
      This team is gonna be good. I wish we had a better option at left CB, but we’ve gone from 3 weak points to 1. Not a bad offseason.

      • I’m just exaggerating. Seriously I’m not that against Carroll and certainly not against a 4-3-3 at all. I just think having Casey and Jack work together would yield more results than Carroll playing. Also, more than anything, I have a fear that Hackworth with be starting Casey every game and we’re going to lose Jack in the process.

      • I share your fears. We may have a better roster, but the same bozos are driving the bus. I think it’s a safe bet that if Jack doesn’t start, he and his agent will be finding a way for him to be the next in a growing list of departures “for personal reasons”. He would be foolish not to.

  2. “At the Delco Times, Matthew De George reports that Pedro Ribeiro has “exceeded expectations” so far in training.

    De George also reports that Zach Pfeffer has “been one of the more impressive performers of the first week of Union camp at YSC Sports.”
    .
    Yeah, and Roger Torres killed it last year in training, too. So if last year is any indication, I guess this means Ribeiro and Pfeffer will both spend the year with their asses glued to the bench.

  3. And in less snarky stuff…
    .
    “[Harrisburg] host new USL PRO side LA Galaxy II on July 30.”
    .
    I think Galaxy II is going to be an interesting devleopment to watch this year. If it’s successful, I think it has the potential to change the landscape of soccer in this country over the next decade or so.

  4. Excellent article by Roger Bennett about why not more US players play in Europe…; after reading this I have grave doubts about any US success in Brazil.

    • Really? I was a little reassured by it. If US players are not getting spots in Europe simply because they are US-born, it would seem to me that there is a market inefficiency at work and our players are likely better than believed. Maybe I’m just being a glass half-full guy though.

      • It struck me the same way.

      • I agree. I think the situation plays into our favor. We’re always better when we’re doubted: 94, 02, 10 as opposed to 98, 06. It’s us against the world again. We do it differently than the rest, and if we succeed, it’s all the better.

    • I had a different take. MLS has rolled the dice, splashed money on Dempsey/Bradley. If this team gets out of a very tough group, and beating Portugal and Ghana is very much in the realm of the possible, then the potential of players associated with the program who are here reversing course back to Europe could be the rising tide that lifts all boats.

      The level of talent has risen in the last year or two, you can argue if MLS is on par with Serie B or Argentina, doesn’t matter and damn near impossible to quantify anyway. What no one can argue against is that the league is continuing to improve. Considering the sample size is only 19 years, not too bad. If some Ligue2 coach thinks we’re no better than the TIppeligaen, well eff him. Don’t scout here then. We’ll just come and poach another young mid from your squad.

      • The problem is that Dempsey has looked terrible at Fulham (and at the Sounders), Altidore is in a slump at Sunderland, Jones got no playing time at Schalke and is on the move to Turkey… All not looking good for the WC. If they get out of their Group then they will exceed expectations and players may become attractive again to non-US teams… I don’t see it happening. Lots of people thought that the good Egypt team had a chance against Ghana; well, we know what happened there. And we know what Portugal/Ronaldo did against a good Sweden side…

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Guido. You’re neglecting to mention that Portugal absolutely limped their way to the WC, the Sweden game aside. Ghana too had their struggles. These are both very talented teams with a predilection for going ICE COLD at certain moments. To paint it in a way where the US has no chance in what amounts to a one-off game is unfair to our boys. If a few US players start to pick up their games either in MLS and abroad and the US enters the tournament with some momentum, getting out of the group isn’t the craziest long shot of all time.

      • Guido – It sounds like you had grave doubts before you even read this article.

        I wouldn’t get too concerned about the current form about a handful of players when we’re still 4.5 months away from our first group match. Plenty of time still for things to happen (both good & bad). Form is temporary.

    • I liked the article, but it’s not really about the World Cup except in a sideways manner. The US team will do whatever it’s going to do in Brasil based on factors that are largely already set in place. Now, for the future, sure, it matters. The article is about the different developmental systems in place here and abroad. The problem, in a word, is college. We have a system here in the US that tries to work with college soccer. In most of the world, a university education for footballers is completely beside the point. If you want to be a footballer, you are not looking to go to university. Full stop. The best thing for the development of US players would be for college soccer to become a club sport, everywhere. If someone’s good enough to be thinking about going pro, then they get into an academy by the time their thirteen years old.

      • their/they’re [ugh]

      • You can’t have full blow academies for 17-21 yr olds when the avg salaries for the senior teams are so low. Why would a young player give up a college education just for a very slim chance to make like 90k when he can go to college for free and have the same shot in the league and a backup plan?
        And the league is struggling to make money now, as is. Academies create no real source of revenue.
        Bottom line is, they can’t afford it yet. Also, college soccer is full of Europeans who turned down lower league academies for free college. I played with many.

    • I think it speaks more to the fact that European teams don’t do enough to help their players acclimate to MAJOR lifestyle changes, as well as coaching carrousels and over the top pressure (why England flops out of every WC & Mexico is starting to follow). Soccernomics pointed this out. So many clubs say, “here’s your contract; now score goals.” I mean how many foreign flop-signings have you seen in England alone? And obviously, it’s an issue for Americans and it’s less to do with talent than other influences.
      And then what Herc said: at some point you just need to provide for your family long term.

      And hopefully MLS continues to pay Americans. Like Her said: Europe is overrated!

  5. WilkersonMcLaser says:
  6. PSP writers acting as if it’s unconscionable to wonder why Amobi isn’t practicing fully is disheartening.

    It’s my dream that this team would eventually get to a place where, like the NFL, fan’s are interested in as much news about the team as possible. Fantasy Football fans generally look for news as to who is practicing Thursday/Friday and who isn’t because it’s reflective of their fitness to play in games.

    So, when the Daily Times states that Amobi isn’t involved with 11 v 11 or 7 v 7, it deserves reporting.

    Perhaps Hack wants a look at the trialists and is saving Okugo -that’s news. Maybe Amobi is nursing something from the past -that’s news.

    Luckily this guy showed up yesterday:

    Old Soccer Coach
    January 30, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I watched the afternoon training session from 2:30 pm until about 3:45 or so. Amobi Okugo appeared on the practice floor late, did not participate in the six 6 v 2 in close space drills, and was jogging briskly/running slowly around the perimeter of the field, behaving approximately the way that the group not dressing in the chosen 18 has behaved on game day.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…Sounds like a player nursing an injury to me and receiving extra treatment prior to a practice session.

    Amobi’s Fifa Tournament, got that covered like a blanket.

    PSP does a great job and I log in everyday for news about the team, but acting in a condescending matter makes no sense here. But seriously don’t block me.

  7. Is it possible for a soccer jersey to be boring and ugly at the same time?

    San Jose says yes…

  8. Old Soccer Coach should write an article, if for nothing than his screen name alone!

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